Time is winding down for the Expos in Montreal.
With an announcement on their relocation expected before the end of the week, the Expos will meet the Florida Marlins in the second game of what will most likely be the final series at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
Several baseball officials said Monday the Expos’ move to Washington, D.C. would probably be announced on Thursday, though there is a slight chance that it could be revealed earlier. The franchise relocation would be the first since the expansion Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers after the 1971 season.
“Now that it looks like it’s going to happen, that this is going to be the end, it’s a little tough for people to get up and talk about it in the positive way that they should,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said of the potential move. “And I think that’s kind of a pity, really, because it deserves that people say more about how they feel about the situation, about the possibility of losing baseball in the Montreal area.
“I think there were a lot more good times possibly than bad times,” Robinson added. “This is where an expansion ballclub grew into one of the best organizations in baseball, at one time, and it’s sad the way it has gone over the last few years and the way it is going out, if this is the end.”
A high-ranking baseball official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said major league baseball, which currently owns the Expos, would try to finalize negotiations with Washington within a week. However, the move would be subject to government approval of stadium funding, would have to be approved by three-quarters of major league owners and survive legal challenges by the Expos’ former limited partners and possibly by Baltimore owner Peter Angelos.
The Expos opened this series in front of 3,923 fans on Monday. However, vice president of business affairs Claude Delorme said before the game a large crowd is expected for Wednesday’s series finale.
“I will have a better feel after (Monday), but the number we are looking at is around 20,000,” he said.
The Marlins beat the Expos 4-1 on Monday to snap a season-high six-game losing streak one day after being eliminated from playoff contention. Miguel Cabrera homered for Florida, which will not get a chance to defend its World Series title.
Juan Rivera drove in the lone run for Montreal, which has lost three straight and five of six.